On Television

I was on Dutch TV, in a 25-minute interview that covered everything from my image of God to the upcoming Stripmaker des Vaderlands election. The program is called ‘Het Vermoeden’ and set in an old-fashioned train compartment, to facilitate guests talking about their life’s journey and the next station they expect to arrive at.

Of course, it was all done in a studio, and this is what it looked like:

studio

The interview was done by Marleen Stelling, and felt like a very pleasant, almost casual conversation about Life, the Universe and Everything:

vermoeden

I was a bit nervous about how I would come across on TV – I hardly ever see myself move or talk the way others perceive me, so it was really er, interesting to watch myself. The thing that struck me most was how lively I gesticulate:

gestes

And second, I was touched to find myself mirroring my long deceased grandfather, Hendrikus Berkhof, who was professor of Theology and would have loved to see his granddaughter carry on his legacy, in a way:

rab-nin

The whole interview (in Dutch!) can be watched here.

All in all, it was a very intense and positive experience! It makes me even more confident that not only could I handle being Stripmaker des Vaderlandsvoting still open until the 30th! – , I would actually enjoy the media aspect of it.

tv-me

Because, let’s be honest here, I just love talking about myself.

And comics.

And myself in relation to comics.

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Food for Thought

Two years ago, I drew comics to illustrate the 17 Global Goals, and this year, I was asked by The World’s Largest Lesson to draw a follow-up poster. It’s designed to be used in schools, introducing the Global Goals through examining what’s on your plate – literally:

globalgoals_food

The project is neatly divided in different chunks and accompanied by handy notes for teachers – check it out on the site of The World’s Largest Lesson!

plans

All the materials are free and can be used in the age groups of 9-14 year olds – please spread the word to teachers and educators!

You’ve got mail!

Physical mail (the stuff that gets delivered to your door by a postman, as opposed to digital mail in your inbox) is under fire in The Netherlands. There’s less of it, so there are huge cuts in delivering hours and postman wages, while stamp prices go up and up.

Nevertheless, nothing beats the thrill of getting a personal letter by snail mail. And it’s been a thrilling time for me in that respect – here’s some stuff that got delivered to me recently:

resist

My wonderful Californian proofreader Dan Schiff sent me two copies of Resist!, the revolutionary magazine that my Minnie-comic was featured in. It’s great to finally be able to browse it (96 pages!) AND it came with lovely personal stuff from Dan, who’s also a gifted artist and a big James Joyce fan – that’s his drawing on a James Joyce bag, and he even added a little doodle especially for us!

Thanks, Dan!

cephalopod

She used to do my accounts for me, now Olga Nagtegaal is dabbling in linoleum prints and I just had to get my hands on this beautiful cephalopod. She even threw in a “misprint” which is just as lovely! (I’m cheating a bit, because Olga actually delivered this to my door, but it was in an addressed envelope, so it still counts as mail).

Thanks, Olga!

lenticular-maatn

My brother Maarten de Heer recently launched a successful Kickstarter to fund his unique lenticular painting BIOSCOPE. Yesterday, the rewards arrived – pieces from the experimental prints he made in the process. Especially for us, he added a print of these animations Yiri made on the DS:

lenticular-yiri

(The real-life picture moves when you change the angle – it’s made from a 15-frame animation)

Thanks, Maarten!

argibald

Artist Willem Bentvelzen (a.k.a. Argibald) makes hilarious cartoons, but also these lovely artistic drawings. For a few years now, he has produced one a day, offering them for a reasonable price of which 20% goes to the food bank. It’s the second time I’ve received his art, and I especially love this stack of cats. It arrived with a personal card and a stack of his cartoons.

Thanks, Willem!

Apart from receiving mail, I have also sent out some. In order to win votes for becoming Stripmaker des Vaderlands, I’m offering original doodles and sending them out on postcards. Here’s a selection:

cards

I’m continuing this until the end of September, by the way, so if you want one too, drop me a line!

(Netherlands only, but if you live abroad and you ask nicely, I’ll consider it)

Dutch elections

It’s time to vote again in The Netherlands – not for government this time, but for a Comic Artist Laureate (Stripmaker des Vaderlands). And I am one of the four nominees!

In October the result will be announced – until then, I’m campaigning like crazy, shunning no means, including bribery and blatant sexism. Vote for me because I have boobs!

zij-stript_holland-kl

All kidding aside: I do think I am a good candidate for the job – which would entail being the ambassador of Dutch comics for three years, starting up all kinds of initiatives that will put comics in the picture, and of course drawing comics about important national events.

To practise a bit, I recently drew this comic about the fallout of the Dutch elections for government – the formation of a cabinet is still going on, and here’s a bit of information about it.

formation1

formation2

Resist!

It’s the Fourth of July, and all over the United States people are celebrating (the memory of) Independence. Renowned comics publishers Françoise Mouly, Nadja Spiegelman and Gabe Fowler have compiled a special edition of Resist! for this occasion – a 96-page tabloid that is distributed for free, and guess what – I’m in it!!!

The Minnie comic I posted a few months ago made it into this issue, and I couldn’t be prouder. To celebrate, I’m sharing a new Minnie comic here today, also on the theme of Resist!.

minnie106

If you want more Minnie, please follow her on Tapastic, where I’m posting her adventures every week.

Comics, Cats and Commandments

Yesterday, a new book was launched in The Netherlands with my comics in it – a collaboration with poet and writer Karel Eykman, who wrote the most influential children’s bible in the 1970s, among other things. Both his and mine position towards Christianity are much the same: we’re not exactly devout believers, but fascinated by its stories and teachings, and each in our own way trying to translate them to modern times.

book

This book, titled ‘Zodat het je goed gaat’ (‘That you may prosper’) contains ten stories by Karel and ten comics by me, about the ten commandments. Our takes are not literal, but rather reflections, and I’ve also tried to make my comics reflect Karel’s stories, often by basing my story on a side-figure from his story.

Here’s my comic about the third commandment, ‘You shall not take the name of God in vain’:

deargod1

deargod2

deargod3

deargod4

The presentation was a well-attended affair, especially thanks to the presence of more than 50 kids from the Karel Eykman school (yes, Karel has a school named after him!). They were listening intently as Karel read a few of his stories and I showed a few of my comics on a big screen. I also made a videoscribe of one of them that I put on Youtube, it’s in Dutch but here you go:

video

Here are some pictures of the gathering:

karel

school

pres

The first two books were presented to the teachers of the Karel Eykman school:

pres2

Drawing for Free

Making cartoons or illustrations for free can be a tricky subject. It involves an ongoing discussion which raises points such as:

  • are artists “businesslike” enough to ask professional compensation for their work?
  • how fair is it for viable companies to ask an illustrator to contribute work in exchange for “exposure”?
  • are artists who work for less than they deserve undermining the market?
  • are artists valued at all in monetary terms?

I’m not going into these points here; I just want to show a little of my considerations in doing work for free, and what I recently got out of it.

heart-lift

A while back, a medicine student sent me a mail, humbly asking for cartoons for an informational flyer to be distributed in Namibia amongst women with a heart condition who are pregnant or planning to be. She apologised for the fact that they only had a small budget – and I answered that for a cause like this, I’ll gladly draw for free.

I am in the lucky position that I don’t need that much money. This is mainly because I have a very low rent and no kids – a few paid assignments a year, next to my ongoing comics, are more than enough to live off. This gives me the freedom to say no to paid jobs that don’t appeal to me, and yes to others that pay nothing but are for good cause. Such as this one.

namibia_cartoons1

namibia_cartoons2

I went into this like I do with any assignment, paid or not: there are preliminary sketches, tweaking, adjusting, last-minute changes as a team of people gives feedback on the results. Luckily, I can work rather quick, and I find it very gratifying to know that I’m delivering something that everyone involved is happy with (within bounds, of course, sometimes the team of people is too big and people come with ridiculous demands, just to make their mark among their coworkers I figure, but this happens very seldom and never in free work. If this happens, I simply let them know more adjustments are going to cost extra.)

The medicine student sent me mails from Namibia to tell me of the enthusiastic reaction she encountered from doctors, nurses and patients alike, and this in itself is enough reward for me. In these cases, I feel that something like a simple cartoon can actually make a big difference. It makes information more accessible, especially in areas where not everyone is literate. A non-illustrated flyer might completely miss the mark, whereas appealing pictures are an invitation to reading.

This was months ago, and today I was pleasantly surprised when this student and her team (back in The Netherlands again and busy finishing their studies) sent me a lovely Thank You card, by snail mail no less, including these pictures:

naimiba1

namibia2

I absolutely love this! It is worth far more to me than a few numbers in my bank account.

I wish every artist could be in the position to do this kind of free work. I wish every person in the world would not be burdened so much by this constant need to generate money. Money has become a form of tyranny, preventing people from being creative or generous. I sincerely hope new forms of economy will win out in my lifetime, and for instance basic income will become a reality for many, if not all.

Here’s another cartoon I made for free, for an event about New Economy, to illustrate how money should allow us to play and move, instead of locking us into these patterns of hoarding and coveting…

money